Canyon Clean Up Following Winter Storm

Dylan Carlson, the head of Reed’s Canyon Restoration Team, speaks on debris and conservation

Photo by Albert Kerelis

Photo by Albert Kerelis

In the chaos of Reed’s unexpected snow week, one of the many details that students may have overlooked was the closure of Reed Canyon. As it turns out, winds and ice have similar effects on trees as they do on power lines, and the condition of the canyon after the severe weather was not unlike the condition of the Portland electrical grid: a broken mess. Students passing the fish ladder or on their way to the Cross Canyon dorms may have caught a glimpse of the dramatic wreckage of fallen tree branches. This wreckage was caused by a combination of heavy ice weighing branches down and high winds snapping off those branches that were already under increased tension. Any student who witnessed the levels of carnage left by the storm may have been concerned about the welfare of our dear canyon, but Dylan Carlson, the head of Reed’s Canyon Restoration Team, reassured the Quest that despite appearances, the lake and its ecosystem are doing fine. 

As Carlson tells it, storms like the one we saw a few weeks ago are all part of the plan in natural systems. The damage may have looked dramatic, but it turns out to have been mostly superficial. “Mostly, it was just broken tops of older trees,” Carlson told the Quest. Many of those branches may have been dead already, and even if they weren’t, the trees in question are big enough to survive without them. Miraculously, there was only one young little cedar that got knocked out by the fall of a larger tree. Carlson still has hopes for its survival, though, as its roots were partially still in the ground. “I tried to save it, I cut a little bit off, and hopefully where I cut, the stronger branches will turn up and become the new leaders of the tree.” 

Photo by Albert Kerelis

Photo by Albert Kerelis

It appears that the canyon got by just fine in terms of infrastructure as well. There was no damage at all to any of the lake’s pathways. The only structural damage, Carlson said, was “one tiny board in the Far East Canyon. There’s a little footbridge that just snapped in half.” Even this board was a small enough issue that Carlson was confident in his ability to fix promptly.

The fallen treetops may not have been bad for the canyon itself, but they still present a problem to any Reedie who might want to take a walk around the lake. The process for fixing this problem is as simple as it is exhausting: manual labor and chain saws. Carlson and his restoration team have spent much of the last week cutting large branches and trunks into more manageable pieces that they then drag out of the pathway. 

The debris the crew breaks up and moves won’t actually be taken away, but simply moved out of the walking paths, partially because the human residents of the canyon aren’t the only ones that benefit from cutting big thick branches down in size. “A lot of birds take the smaller pieces, and other animals, it doesn’t hurt actually to have a little bit of added supplies to work with during nesting season.” 

As it turns out, the damage to the canyon caused by winter storms was not only superficial, but in many ways helpful to a lot of the creatures that call the lake home. All of those downed sticks will be used by birds for nests and by beavers for food and building materials. It’s all part of the changing seasons.  

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Thank you for creating such a vivid, visual sense of place.

2 years ago

Congrats to Albert Kerelis for the images. Stark and beautiful.

Related Stories


We would love your thoughts, please comment!x
%d bloggers like this: